Archive for the ‘Strength Training’ Category
Yoga, Boot Camp, Boxing, Piloxing, Turbo Super Charged Fit Club, there are so many choices for fitness classes these days. While I believe it’s important to try new things, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
If you have a Boxing class at 9 on Saturdays, don’t schedule a pilates session at 11 the same day. You may not realize it but you will not be giving your all in either of those classes.
Even if you feel like you have the energy to endure both sessions, mentally you will be holding back. You may work up a good sweat in the boxing class, but that pilates session will be in the back of your mind. Then when you do get to pilates, chances are you won’t be performing at the best level that you’re capable of. Don’t overbook yourself!
When you walk into a class or work-out session leave everything at the door. Focus on the task at hand and give it everything you have. Don’t think about the other classes you want to try, or the run you are going to do tomorrow. Engage in the work you are doing in that moment. You will get better results from the class you’re doing and you’ll feel like you got a great work-out at the end of the session.
Stop Looking For The Next Best Thing
Take responsibility for your results. New fitness classes and gimmicks come out daily, it’s not the class that is going to do all the work for you. You are the one that has to put the effort in. Find a class that you feel motivated and supported in. Then give it a fair shot. If your results are slow or not happening talk to the instructor or other members of the class that have had success, don’t look for what you think will be the next best thing.
Sample One At A Time
If there is a class you’re interested in, give it a trial run. Test out one class at a time. It’s difficult to make a decision when you have 3 different classes going at one time. This will allow you try the class a few times and make an informed decision on whether it’s a good fit for you or not. Each session may be different depending on the class, it’s important to try it more than once. This will be easier to do if your schedule is clear and you aren’t trying to jam in a run followed by yoga followed by body pump followed by the new class that you’re best friend is in.
To get the best results from your fitness classes, learn to enjoy the variety without putting too much on your plate at one time.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. You may be able to do push-ups all day, but the thought of jumping up onto a box gets you in a tizzy. Maybe you rock at box jumps but you can’t seem to get your chest to the ground on a push up. Either scenario can do a number on your mental state in the gym.
It can be difficult to work on your weaknesses without getting frustrated. Especially if it’s an exercise you’ve been working on for a while. Here are a few tips on how to deal with your fitness frustrations.
The best way to get better at pull-ups is to practice pull-ups more often. It really is that simple. Do a modified version of the exercise you’re working on. Dedicate 10-15:00 each work-out session specifically for the exercise you want to improve on. If you work with a trainer ask them to spend some time with you on your trouble area, or come into your session a few minutes early to work on it yourself.
Improvements can take time. Remember improvements will take place if you put the effort in. It may take longer than you like to build up to the exercise you’re working on, but recognize that you get stronger and closer to your goal every-time you work at it. Go at your own pace and believe that you can get to the goal you want to accomplish. There should always be something you’re striving for, learn to be patient with your progress.
Do some exercise homework alone. The pressure of someone watching you try an exercise can be overwhelming. Even if your in a gym and no one is watching you, the thought of embarrassing yourself can get to be too much. Practice in the privacy of your own home. If your gym has a separate class room that isn’t being used try working on your exercise in there.
Be nice to yourself. If you beat yourself up every-time you try something new, you’ll be in for a bumpy ride. Be proud of the fact that you’re making an effort. Realize that every-time you work at something you’re improving. Maybe you didn’t get all the way to the floor on your push-up, but recognize if you’ve gotten down lower than you ever have before. Think back to when you first started exercising and the areas in which you’ve improved so far. Find something about yourself to praise and you will associate a positive feeling with the exercise you’re working on.
You’re body is an amazing machine, if you work hard you can accomplish anything you desire.
Are you bored with sit-ups and crunches? There are many ways to work your core besides these traditional exercises. Here are 5 ways to strengthen your stomach and back muscles.
1. Over Head Hold
Hold an object directly over your head or slightly behind. You can use anything that’s easy for you to grip, a dumbell, plate, barbell or any household item with a significant amount of weight. Anytime you’re holding something over your head you’re activating your core muscles. Make sure you are not holding your weight too far forward over your head. This will cause pain in your low back.
2. Overhead Walking Lunges
Hold a weight over your head and perform a standard walking lunge. Step out and bend both knees. Your front knee should not go past your front toe and your back knee should get as close to the ground as possible. Concentrate on bending down instead of forward. Drive off of your front leg to stand back up and repeat on your opposite leg. Make sure you’re keeping the weight directly over your head the whole time. The Overhead Walking lunge intensifies the activity in your core in comparison to the stationary Overhead Hold. Your stomach and back muscles will work harder in order to keep the weight up and over your head while your lunging.
3. Plank Hold
This core exercise is very effective and can be done anywhere. Position yourself on the ground as if you were starting a push-up. Make sure your elbows and wrists are directly underneath your shoulders and your body is in a straight line. Common mistakes are dropping your hips too low or hiking them up too high. A beginners modification for this exercise is to hold from your knees instead of your toes.
4. Plank Up/Downs
Start in a plank position. Stay on your toes and lower down to your forearms, then extend back up to your hands in the original plank position. Make sure your hips are staying level the whole time. Use a mat or towel underneath your arms. If you do these on the floor or outside you can get a burn mark on your forearms, be sure to use a mat of some kind.
5. Knees To Elbows
Hang from a pull up bar with your knees bent and your feet behind you. Use your core muscles to bring your knees up to your elbows or as high as you can get them. Bring your feet back behind you with your knees bent. Make sure you are not swinging your legs up, the momentum of the swing will take away from the core exercise.
Here is a 20:00 Total Body Work-Out with emphasis on your core muscles.
:30 Plank Up/Downs
:30 Plank Hold
*Beginners rest instead of the second plank hold
20x OH Walking Lunges (on each leg)
10x Knees To Elbows
15:00 As Many Rounds As Possible
:20 Overhead Hold/:10 Rest
A strong core is essential for a strong body. Don’t neglect these muscle groups!
When you are pressed for time is your work-out the first thing to get cut from your to-do list?
Instead of skipping your exercise session cut down the duration and turn up the intensity. Try this 20:00 Boot Camp work-out. Give it everything you’ve got to get a great workout in half the time it usually takes you.
:20 Body Weight Squats/:10 Hold at the bottom of the squat
- Burpee Broad Jump
- Body Weight Squat
- Atomic Sit Up
When the timer starts do 1 repetition of each exercise, then 2 reps of each exercise, then 3 reps of each exercise. See how many rounds you can complete in 10:00.
:20 Bearcrawl/:10 Plank Hold
Body Weight Squats
When you are squatting be sure to go low enough. Place an object behind you about 12″ off of the ground. This will help you to keep your weight in your heels. Keep your shoulders back and look up the whole time you are squatting. Make sure you’re pushing your knees away from eachother when you come down and back up.
Burpee Broad Jump
Crouch down and place your hands on the ground and jump back into a plank. Do a push up, jump your feet up to where your hands are. Lastly jump as far forward as you can. The broad jump focuses on how far forward you can jump not how high.
Atomic Sit Up
Start seated, lean back and lift your feet off of the ground. Once you are balanced extend your legs all the way and lean your shoulders all the way back. Then bring your knees all the way into your chest. Use your core to help you balance while performing this exercise.
If any of these exercises don’t feel right, you may need more assistance with your form. If you are an experienced bootcamp participant, then this will be a good challenge for you.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is an incredibly useful fitness tool that I recently purchased. This piece of equipment has become extremely popular in the past few years. There are numerous exercises that can be done with the TRX at any fitness level.
Check out these 5 basic exercises for a total body workout with The TRX
1. Chest Press
Stand a few feet away from the TRX with your back to where it’s fastened. Grab the handles and set up like you would to do a push up. Lean forward and push your-self back up.
2. The Row
Face the apex of the TRX. Grip the handles and extend your arms all the way so you are leaning back. Pull yourself up with your arms until your chest reaches where your hands are.
Note: The closer you stand to the apex of the TRX the more difficult these exercises will be. You can also place a box under the TRX and put your feet on top of it. Then do a push-up like you would on the ground. The same can be done for the row. The instability will add a new level of difficulty to these exercises.
3. Reverse Crunch
Place your feet in the stirrups, with the soles of your feet facing up. Hold yourself in a plank position. Bring your knees into your chest and extend them back out again. The further out you set up, the harder this exercise will be
4. Hamstring Curl
Lye flat on the ground with your heels placed in the stirrups of The TRX. Lift your hips and draw your knees into your chest. Extend your legs back out to your starting position.
Face the apex of the TRX and grip the handles. Keep your weight in your heels and sit back like you are sitting in a chair. Pull yourself back up using mainly your legs. For a higher level of difficulty, try single leg squats and use the TRX for stability. If you are new to squats or nursing an injury the TRX can be very helpful because you are not supporting all of your body weight.
Here is a total body 30:00 work-out you can do with The TRX
3×5 Plank Rotation
Start in a plank (looks like the beginning of a push up). Lift one arm and twist open on that side. Repeat on the opposite side.
:30 TRX Chest Press/:30 Over Head Hold (use a #20 Dumbell or MedBall)
4 Rounds,1:00 Jumping Jacks
:30 TRX Row/:30 Row Hold (extend your arms while gripping the TRX and lean back)
4 Rounds, 1:00 Jumping Jacks
:30 TRX Reverse Crunch/:30 Plank Hold
4 Rounds, 1:00 Jumping Jacks
:30 TRX Hamstring Curl/ :30 Sit Ups
4 Rounds, 1:00 Jumping Jacks
:30TRX Single Leg or Double Leg Squat/ :30 Squat Hold at the bottom
4 Rounds, 1:00 Jumping Jacks
3×10 Lying Torso Rotation
Lye flat on the ground and bring your knees directly over your hips while keeping your feet up. Extend your arms on the ground beside you. Bring your knees as far over to one side as they will go while still keeping your shoulders on the ground. Repeat on opposite side.
If you are hesitant to make the purchase of a TRX, there are fitness facilities in the Boston area that have this exercise tool. Ask if your gym offers TRX classes or has one on hand to use.
Have you come to a dead end with your weight loss program? Follow these tips to make this plateau a thing of the past!
1. Switch Your Schedule
Play around with you work-out times. If you normally exercise in the morning try switching two of those mornings for night sessions. When you practice the same exercises at the same time every day your body adapts to that schedule. Try shifting your day to a time that your body is not accustomed to.
2. Increase The Intensity
Make sure you are challenging yourself. Your exercise sessions may have been difficult when you first started and it’s important to keep that intensity going. There are many ways you can increase the intensity of your work-outs.
- Combine cardio and weights. If you are doing a general strength circuit add a 1/4 mile sprint at the end of your sets. If you have mastered the Push up, then try doing a set of Push ups (anywhere from 5-20) and a 250 Meter Rowing sprint for as many rounds as you can perform.
- Try a new machine. If you usually run then try a session on the bike. The C2 rower is one of the most beneficial and underused pieces of equipment in a typical gym (Planet Fitness, Gold’s, WOW). Try the step mill or StairMaster, your heart rate will go up leading you to burn more calories when you try something new and challenge yourself.
- Add Intervals To Your Cardio Days. For those of you that do straight cardio a few days a week, this is the quickest way to hitting a plateau. Add in intervals to avoid this problem. If you normally run, bike or row try this interval work-out.
10:00 at an easy pace
:30 Sprint/:30 Easy for 10 Rounds
5:00 at a moderate pace
:30 Sprint/:30 Easy for 5 Rounds
3:00 at a moderate pace
:30 Sprint/:30 Easy for 3 Rounds
5:00 Cool Down
3. Keep A Journal
Record your daily food intake along with your work-out sessions. This will take the guess work out of your fitness program. You will be able to see which areas you need to improve or if you are doing too much of the same thing. Record your weight/inches lost in this journal as well. You can look back on weeks where you had the best results and figure out which exercises and diet your body responded well to.
4. Do Have A Cheat Meal; Don’t Have A Cheat Weekend.
Weekends are a tough time for those of you on a weight-loss program. Allow yourself a meal that you’re craving, that may not be the most beneficial for your body. End it there, don’t let it lead to a weekend of self sabotage. Cheat weekends will definitely lead to a weight-loss plateau and possible weight-gain.
5. Spice Up Your Diet
Make new recipes and step outside of the traditional diet foods. When you eat the same thing everyday you will get board no matter how much you enjoy that dish. Boredom with your diet regimen can only cause negative results. You will eventually get sick of salads with grilled chicken and stray off of your diet. Do some research there are plenty of good healthy recipes out there.
Plateaus can be a frustrating weigh-loss situation. You work hard you should see good results. Follow these tips and the most important thing is to stay focused, don’t let this set-back be a pit-fall!
Photo Credit: http://www.bestquickweightlossdiets.com
I recently purchased The Xtreme Doorway Gym from CAP Strength. There are a numberof exercises that can be done with this unit. I have found this product to be useful for myself and my clients.
The Xtreme Doorway Gym is $12.99 at T.J. Maxx
The assembly of this product was extremely easy and took about 10:00 to put together. Once the nuts and bolts are screwed into place you can set this product up on any standard door frame (24″ to 32″ wide). Be sure to tug down on the grips once you’ve installed it to make sure the unit is secure.
If you are a novice at pull-ups this product can help you progress. Try jumping pull-ups to help you get over the bar. The more you practice these the less you will need to jump as your strength progresses. For the advanced crowd, start in a hanging position so your feet do not touch the ground and pull yourself up and over the bar.
Knees To Elbows
This is a great core exercise. Start from a hanging position, engage your lower abdomen and curl your knees up to your elbows. Beginner’s can start out by pulling their knees to their mid-torso or chest level. Make sure not to swing your knees up to your elbows, take your time and engage all of your core muscles.
Grip the bar and hang with your feet behind you. This exercise is great for grip strength. Increasing your grip strength will help you to progress in other exercises such as Pull-ups,Deadlifts, Snatches and Farmer’s Carry lunges to name a few.
For people that have wrist injuries this tool can be helpful with push ups. Place the unit on your floor and grip the high arches. Then proceed as you would with a regular push up. You should feel less pressure on your wrists.
This product is useful for anchored sit-ups. Place the unit on the bottom half of a doorway so it is securely in place. Then place your feet under the longer metal bar, curl all the way up and bring your chest to your knees. Be sure to look up and keep a space between your chin and your chest so you are not straining your neck.
Please be sure to read through the instruction manual before you try working with this product. According to the manual the unit is able to support up to 200LBS. Use caution and your own discretion when you are exercising with this piece of equipment.
Here is a great full body work-out you can do with The Xtreme Doorway Gym
3×10 Shoulder Dislocators
Roll up a towel length wise and place your hands at the farthest ends of the towel in front of you. Slowly bring the towel behind your head and back to the front.
1:00 Pull Ups-Do as many reps as you can at any progression level
:30 Rest, 5 Rounds
10x Knees To Elbows+1:00 Plank
10x Push Up/10x Sit Up
9x Push Up/9x Sit Up
8x Push Up/8x Sit Up
7x Push Up/7x Sit Up
6x Push Up/6x Sit Up
5x Push Up/5x Sit Up
4x Push Up/4x Sit Up
3x Push Up/4x Sit Up
2x Push Up/2x Sit Up
1x Push Up/1x Sit Up
:30 Dead Hang/:30 Rest
Photo Credit: www.rehobothcrossfit.com
When you were a child there were multiple games that provided a great work-out. What was your favorite activity as a kid, and could you perform it now with ease?
I use jump rope a lot with my clients. Jumping rope puts a large demand on your cardiovascular system. This activity also requires agility and coordination. A warm up I use frequently is 3:00 of Jump Rope followed by :30 of rest for 3 rounds. If 3:00 is too much start off with 1-2:00 of Jump Rope and work your way up to 3:00 straight.
This activity takes a large amount of strength. Most children can fly across the monkey bars with ease because their strenght to body weight ratio is proportionate. As we get older we grow in size and don’t always keep up with strengthening exercises. Pull-ups are a simple exercsie that you can get large strength gains from. For beginners assisted pull-ups with a flex band are a good way to transition into regular pull-ups.
This childhood game was a great way to get your heart pumping while working on agility and single leg strength. Agility ladders are a great substitute for this game that will provide the same benefits. There are multiple drills you can do with an agility ladder. Gain strength and balance with this simple piece of equipment.
Want a great core work-out? Revisit this activity from your youth. The hula-hoop is a non-tradition fitness tool that you can get great benefits from using. Many companies have made weighted hula-hoops to add intensity to this activity. Use this as a warm up or cool down to add a new element to your work-out.
Remember how easy these activities were as a child? There’s nothing that you could do back then that you can’t do now with a little practice.
Photo Credit: http://thesantosrepublic.com/
My favorite Olympic Lift is The Overhead Squat. The OHS incorporates your core and upper body more than any other squat. This lift takes a great amount of strength, balance, flexibility and focus. Here’s how to get started on this great exercise.
General Warm Up
The purpose of the general warm up is to raise your body’s core temperature and warm up your muscles so they will move and stretch easily. For most work outs you can use a bike, rower or treadmill for 5-10:00 at an easy pace to start out with.
Specific Warm Up
The specific warm up will be different with any exercise session you do. For Overhead Squats a good specific warm up would be 3×20 Air Squats and 3×10 Shoulder Dislocators.
Practicing your squat with no weight will get your body ready to activate the key muscles you use in the OHS. Shoulder dislocators can be done with a PVC pipe, jump rope or towel. Hold the material you choose as wide as possible, slowly bring it behind your back and then forward again. This exercise will engage your shoulders and arms, getting them ready for the next exercise you’re about to do.
Begin your first set of Overhead Squats with a very light material like a PVC pipe or a broomstick. This will allow you to work on proper technique. Place a ball or small step behind you about 12″ off the ground so you know how far down to squat.
- The Overhead Set-Up
Hold the PVC pipe over your head with your hands a few inches wider than your shoulders. The PVC pipe should be behind your head as far as your shoulder flexibility will allow. Once you are comfortable with your arm positioning, you are ready to squat.
- The Squat
Make sure your feet are wider than your hips, as you sit back keep your weight in your heels and push your knees away from each other. As you’re coming up squeeze your legs and drive up until you’re back to your standing position.
- The bar should stay behind your head for the whole exercise.
- Keep your head up the whole time
- Make sure you go low enough to touch the object behind you
- Your knees should never dive in towards each other
Once you’re mastered the key points above you are ready to start with a heavier weight. Do not rush into a heavier weight. Your Overhead squat should look and feel perfect before you advance to a barbell.
If you have an aluminum barbell (15LBS), practice with that before you move on to a standard BB (45LBS). If you are ready to move on to more weight than the 45LB Barbell then you need to work with bumper plates, which are weights that can be dropped on the ground from any height. It’s important to drop the weight after your squat is complete. There are no strength gains from re-racking the weight and you are more likely to get hurt if you attempt to. For beginners I strongly recommend working with an experienced coach before moving on to anything heavier than a standard barbell.
The Overhead Squat is an Olympic lift that incorporates much more than physical strength. If you have the resources, this is an exercise to get working on.
Photo Credit: http://www.crossfitemeraldcoast.com
I’ve been working with Dynamax Medicine Balls for three years and I get so much great use out of them. These medicine balls are designed to do more than your typical weighted exercise tool. They are soft shelled weighted balls that are safe to throw and catch. The weights vary from 4LB to 20LB and they are all the same size in diameter. Get familiar with this exercise tool for a fun and effective work-out session. Here are some exercises to get you started.
1. Wall Ball
Squat down holding the dynamax ball at chest level, on your way up from the squat, use your legs to throw the ball as high as you can. When you catch the dynamax ball go right into the next squat and repeat the throw.
2. AB Toss
Start lying down with your feet flat on the floor holding the dynamax ball at chest level. As you’re coming up from the sit up position throw the ball at a wall or work-out buddy. Catch the ball and return to starting position.
3. Chest Pass
This exercise is a great warm up. Stand a few feet away from a work-out partner. Keep your hips facing forward and use only your arms to toss and catch the dynamax ball.
4. Sumo Throw
Stand a few feet away from a work out partner. Squat down and as your coming up toss the ball to your partner. When the ball returns go right into the squat and toss back. To make this more challenging increase the distance between you and your partner. Focus on distance instead of how high you can throw the ball.
5. Squat, Jump Squat and Squat Hold
This medicine ball is 14 inches in diameter, which makes it a perfect marker for squats. Place the ball behind you when you are doing squats or a squat hold. This will force you to go down to a certain level and it helps to guide your form by keeping your weight in your heels. Also, be sure to keep your head up and shoulders back.
6. Russian Twist
Sit on the floor holding the ball at chest level. Lean back slightly, lift your feet and cross your ankles, then twist the ball from side to side. For beginners, start with your feet on the ground, when that is no longer challenging lift your heels.
The Dynamax Ball can be used in place of a weight bench for light lifting. Place the ball behind your shoulders and upper back, then lift your hips. You’ve now incorperated your core into an arm exercise. Try doing the chest press, french press or flys while your in this position. Be sure to keep your hips up and you’ll engage your whole body in this exercise.
8. Overhead Hold
With the Dynamax Ball’s soft shell there’s minimal risk of hurting yourself with this tool. Use this weighted ball for any overhead exercises, such as Overhead holds, OH Walking Lunges or OH Squats. Overhead exercises are not only good for your arms but your core as well.
Here is a great work-out you can do with a friend.
- Dynamax Ball (I recommed the 8LB)
- Set of Dumbells (2 @ #10 each would be best)
- Work-out Buddy
10x Chest Pass
10x Sumo Throw
10x AB Toss
Person #2 holds their exercise until person #1 is done.
P1-15x Wall Ball
P1-15x DB Row
P2-Squat Hold (hover over the Dynamax Ball)
P1-15x DB Bicep Curl
P2-Overhead Hold With Dynamax Ball
P1-15x DB French Press using Dynamax Ball for “The Bench”
50x Russian Twist (Each Side)